The Farm as Habitat: Environmental Topics

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Hawaii's Unique Natural Resources

Located 2500 miles away from the nearest continental landmass, the islands of Hawaii are some of the most remote on earth. As a result, 97% of our native species are found here and nowhere else. Visit the websites below to learn a bit about how truly unique our island homes are.

Coral Reefs

Endangered Species & Wildlife Protection

Hawaii has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of threatened and endangered species in the nation. Our islands are small and the influence of man’s land uses so great that currently 312 plants and animals are considered to be threatened or endangered. Often farmers can manage land to enhance habitat for these plants and animals.

Funding Sources for Conservation

USDA NRCS Financial Assistance Programs: General overview of conservation, farm/ranch, forestry, grassland and environmental programs offereded by the USDA NRCS. Contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office for technical assistance and cost-share funding.

Incentive Programs for Forest Landowners in Hawaii

Invasive Species: Invasive and Noxious Weeds

With the best intentions, agriculture, forestry and most recently the horticulture and landscaping industries have introduced plants and animals to the Pacific Islands which over time proved to seriously out compete native species. Fortunately, farmers can now check to see if a plant that they grow will cause long-term damage to our island’s ecosystem.

Livestock Management

Manure management can be a major headache for livestock producers! Water quality citations and fines from improper storage and spreading can be completely avoided with good management. Partner with other landowners to use manure and compost to improve soil quality (see soils section above). Refer to the animal production webpage for more information about rotational grazing, manure management, and composting.

Native Plants


Hawaiian plant listserve ( discussion of Hawaii's native plants. To subscribe, send mail to LISTSERV@HAWAII.EDU with the command SUBSCRIBE HIPLANTS-L.



The soil resource is one of the farm’s most valuable assets. The websites below will help you identify your farm’s soils and to understand how to manage them for long term crop productivity with excellent water quality.

Identify your soil

Fertility and Soil Quality

Dr. Jonathan Deenik, Soil Fertility and Soil Quality Specialist

Dr. Koon-Hui Wang, Assistant Professor (sustainable pest management, cover crops, insectary plants, Korean Natural Farming, nematodes, soil health management):

Soil Testing

Agricultural Diagnostic Service Center: CTAHR’s ADSC lab conducts plant disease analyses, feed and forage analyses, insect identification analyses, chemical analyses of soils, chemical analyses of plant tissue, and chemical analyses of water and nutrient solutions.

Soil Erosion

Erosion from farmland impairs water quality and farmers can be fined. Plan to prevent erosion you’re your property. These websites can help you manage your land resource to keep your valuable topsoil on-site. Land clearing is regulated by local grading ordinances. Before clearing land, be sure you learn about your restrictions.



Land use changes have caused extensive damage to water quality nationwide. Agriculture has been a source of sedimentation that damages our coral reefs, nutrient pollution which causes excessive algae blooms, pesticide and herbicide pollution in our groundwater. We can learn from these past mistakes. In addition, funding is often available to assist landowners and leasees to protect our water resources.

Water Quality

Stream Protection

Groundwater Protection


Natural Resource Inventories


Webinar Portal for Conservation of Natural Resources: Up-to-date info on the latest research and industry practices in forestry, conservation, bioenergy, and natural resources. Most user friendly webinars provide the opportunity to accrue continuing education credits, from professional accrediting organizations such as Society of American Foresters, International Society of Arboriculture, The Wildlife Society, Certified Crop Advisors, and others.

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These webpages were originally generated under a grant program from Western SARE entitled "New Farmers: Choosing the Road Less Traveled" EW03-002 (2004-2006). Toward Sustainable Agriculture (downloadable .pdf)